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Marcel Broodthaers, Portrait of Maria Gilissen with Tripod, 1967, gelatin silver emulsion on canvas with tripod, approx. 66 x 43 x 24". From “Light Years: Conceptual Art and the Photograph, 1964–1977.”

“Light Years: Conceptual Art and the Photograph, 1964–1977”

The Art Institute of Chicago

Marcel Broodthaers, Portrait of Maria Gilissen with Tripod, 1967, gelatin silver emulsion on canvas with tripod, approx. 66 x 43 x 24". From “Light Years: Conceptual Art and the Photograph, 1964–1977.”

For a time, the consensus on Conceptual art was that it had to do with “dematerialization” or “idea”; after a while, though, it began to seem better to read the specificity of Conceptualism through its emphasis on language. But in recent years, there has been a shift away from seeing language as Conceptualism’s distinguishing attribute to what might seem a somewhat surprising element: photography. In the past, there was a tendency to strategically ignore photography’s role as a medium, since Conceptualists often treated the camera as a simple artless recording device, leaving “fine art” photography to the likes of Ansel Adams. In more recent years, that polarity has largely been blurred. Thus in her 2007 book, Words to Be Looked At: Language in 1960s Art, Liz Kotz discerned the boundary between Fluxus and Conceptual art, not in terms of any distinct approach to language, the

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